The actor Andrew Sachs who played such a memorable role as the long-suffering Spanish waiter Manuel at the hands of the irascible Basil Fawlty (played by John Cleese) has died at the age of 86 after suffering from dementia for the last four years. As the foil for the more famous Cleese, he was a major factor in providing the humor in that series. He was by all accounts an extremely nice person who had a knack for farcical comedy.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Cleese said: “If you met him you would never think for a moment that he was a comedian, you would think he was a rather cultivated bank manager possibly retired, because he was quite quiet and poised and thoughtful. And then you stuck that moustache on him and he turned into a completely different human being. He was wonderful.”
He added: “He is one of the easiest to work with. Not just in the sense that he was totally agreeable – he was a very nice sweet man – but he was just a brilliant farceur. It was so easy for us to work out all the physical business. Farce is the hardest form of acting.”
In honor of this fine actor, I shall start watching the Fawlty Towers episodes again this weekend, a box set of which my daughter kindly gave me as a Christmas gift some years ago.
Here is a clip of one scene with Manuel.
And here is Cleese talking about Sachs and the character he played.